Rave Guardian app ensures students arrive at home safe

Don’t feel safe walking home alone? There’s an app for that. 

See something suspicious on campus that you want to report? There’s an app for that. 

Need to contact University Police immediately? There’s an app for that.

The free Rave Guardian app, available for iPhone and Android, features a safety timer for traveling, an anonymous tip hotline and a way to instantly connect users with the South Dakota State University Police Department or 911 responders.

Jayme Trygstad, emergency management specialist, said the most well-known feature of the app is the safety timer. Users can set a timer between 5 minutes and 23 hours and 55 minutes, depending on how long it will take to reach a destination.

The timer is protected by a four-digit pin number chosen by the user, which is the only way to turn the timer off. If the timer is not turned off before the countdown reaches zero, the guardian selected by the user is notified. The guardian is not notified when the timer is initially set.

The automatic guardian on the app for an SDSU email account is UPD. Other guardians can be contacts such as parents, friends, roommates or significant others. Users without an SDSU email are automatically connected to the local police department.

When the timer finishes its countdown, the cell phone’s GPS tracking system will send an alert with a location to help in an emergency.

Trygstad said a user will occasionally forget to turn off a timer and UPD will be called to investigate the location and incident.

“It’s OK to have a false alarm on there because there are no charges, there’s no cost,” Trygstad said. “Now, it’s not prank calls; obviously that’s different than a false alarm.”

The “send a tip” feature allows users to report a variety of incidents to UPD, including an accident, suspicious activity, a policy violation or an incident that requires repair or other action. Trygstad gave examples of an icy patch of sidewalk that needs salt or a roommate using drugs.

These tips can be anonymous and will send a text message to UPD about the incident. UPD can then either go to the scene and check it out or send the necessary official, such as a staff member from Facilities and Services, to resolve the issue. Trygstad said “send a tip” is the most commonly used feature by SDSU students.

Michael Adelaine, vice president for Technology and Security, said the Rave Guardian app is more efficient than the emergency call boxes on campus because students and faculty have access to it no matter where they are.

“You don’t have to move to that location, you don’t have to locate that blue light, you have it in your pocket,” Adelaine said.

The two simplest features the Guardian app has are the “Call SDSU Police Department” and “Call 9-1-1” buttons. These buttons dial the emergency responder by tapping the icon then confirming once. The call will immediately connect the user with the responder.

Trygstad is working to spread awareness of the app across campus by holding training sessions and promoting its use among students in residence halls.

The app has been available for about two-and-a-half years and currently has 568 SDSU users, which includes students, faculty and staff.

Adelaine encouraged students to download the app to be prepared in case of an emergency.

“What we’re concerned about is students are going to wait until we have some kind of situation, and then we can only react after the fact,” Adelaine said.